Feeds

iTunes sales 'collapsing'

Digital flatline looks ominous for music labels

High performance access to file storage

The leading DRM digital download service, Apple's iTunes, has experienced a collapse in sales revenues this year according to analyst company Forrester Research.

Secretive Apple doesn't break out revenues from iTunes, but Forrester conducted an analysis of credit card transactions over a 27-month period. And this year's numbers aren't good.

While the iTunes service saw healthy growth for much of the period, since January the monthly revenue has fallen by 65 per cent, with the average transaction size falling 17 per cent. The previous spring's rebound wasn't repeated this year.

And it isn't just Apple's problem. Nielsen Soundscan has grimmer news for prospective digital download services, indicating three consecutive quarters of flat or declining revenues for the sector as a whole.

Speaking to The Register, Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff warned against extrapolating too much from the figures.

It may reflect a seasonal bounce that hasn't yet manifested itself. However, it might not.

"There's no indication of enormous growth coming," he told us. "When you look at this alongside the SoundScan numbers, you may ask 'Where's the part were we're supposed to get excited?'."

The ominous trend comes despite healthy growth for digital music players - iPod sales quadrupled in the period monitored by Forrester - and Apple's growing inventory - the company has added videos and movies to its established inventory of music downloads and audiobooks.

Three times a year

Forrester revealed some fascinating details about iTunes purchasing habits. Some 3.2 per cent of online households (around 60 per cent of the wider population) bought at least one download, and these dabblers made on average 5.6 transactions, with the median household making just three a year. The median transaction was slightly under $3.

No one in music gets rich from a stampede of interest like this.

(The figures don't include gifts redeemed via the iTunes Store. While Apple can argue this does not reflect the volume of transactions taking place, it gives a more accurate picture of what customers are actually prepared to pay for.)

Bernoff makes a fascinating comparison between the public's appetite for buying CDs over the internet, and its lack of appetite for DRM songs. Online individuals (rather than households) bought 1.7 CDs over the internet per quarter.

"The comparatively modest iTunes numbers suggest that consumers are still spending the bulk of their music budget $14-at-a-time on shiny discs," he writes.

"iTunes sales are not cutting into CD sales," he elaborated to us, "they're an incremental purchase at best.

"There's a problem here. CD sales have fallen 20 per cent over five years. The message here is not that CD sales are coming back, the ability to obtain pirated music is now so widespread the DRM looks to consumers more like a problem than a benefit."

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.